Over the weekend, police were called to McDonald’s outlets across the USA to calm the furious Rick & Morty fans queuing for Szechuan sauce. Wait, what? Let’s back up – all the way to April Fools’ Day.
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
The Rick & Morty season 3 premiere airs, containing a series of references to an obscure McDonald’s sauce that was fleetingly available in 1998 to promote the Disney film Mulan. Mid-episode, genius scientist Rick gets to taste the sauce again in a memory, and at the episode’s end he tells Morty: “I’m not driven by avenging my dead family… I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes nine seasons, I want my McNugget dipping sauce.”
The sauce is not mentioned for the rest of season 3.
SUNDAY, APRIL 2
McDonald’s tweets the vaguely problematic “McNugga Lubba Dub Dub” – an adaptation of Rick’s catchphrase “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub”. Rick & Morty’s account replies: “This makes me uncomfortable. Especially the ‘McNugga’.”
A petition is started asking McDonald’s for the return of the sauce. It goes on to attract over 35,000 signatures.
.@RickandMorty McNugga Lubba Dub Dub. ?
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) April 2, 2017
Be careful what you wish for.
This makes me uncomfortable. Specifically the "McNugga".#szechuansauce https://t.co/c8UO7W8gNy
— Rick and Morty (@RickandMorty) April 2, 2017
MONDAY, APRIL 3
McDonald’s corporate chef Mike Haracz tweets: “I’ll see what I can do” to fans asking him to recreate the recipe.
I'll see what I can do
— Chef Mike Haracz ????? (@Mike_Haracz) April 3, 2017
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19
An ancient packet of the sauce is sold on Ebay for $15,000 (£11,500) after being discovered in a recently purchased second-hand car. “I hope somebody who wants to eat some 20-year-old gnarly sauce gets this,” the seller says. “I would prefer not to sell it to a collector.”
SUNDAY, JULY 30
The remainder of Rick & Morty season 3 begins to air on Adult Swim. To mark the occasion, McDonald’s produces three 64oz. bottles of Szechuan sauce, gifting one to Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and the others to fans who retweet McDonald’s on the night.
Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/vNEIfHTmNU
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 30, 2017
Ignoring Rick & Morty‘s notorious no-time-travel rule, chef Mike Haracz makes an eye-rolling statement about how limited the sauce is: “We wish we could have brought more sauce through, but we couldn’t risk keeping a portal like that open… If we left the portal open, we’d have puka shells, bucket hats, and boy bands as far as the eye could see.”
SUNDAY, AUGUST 6
A fan wins a bottle by retweeting McDonald’s, and puts it on sale on Ebay. EDM DJ Deadmau5 bids for it, writing: “Am I really in the middle of a bidding war over a 64oz bottle of Szechuan Sauce? Yes. I am.”
am i really in the middle of a bidding war over a 64oz bottle of Szechuan Sauce? yes. i am.
— Goat lord (@deadmau5) August 6, 2017
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16
Deadmau5 loses track of the bid while getting married. The bidding finishes at $15,350 (£12,000), but the two top bidders fail to cough up, leading the seller to approach Deadmau5. The DJ buys the sauce for an unknown sum, tweeting: “I will be enjoying the hell out of this sauce when we get back from our honeymoon.”
I will be enjoying the hell out of this sauce when we get back from our honeymoon 😉
— Goat lord (@deadmau5) August 15, 2017
MONDAY, OCTOBER 2
McDonald’s announces plans to resurrect the sauce for one day (Saturday, October 7) at select US stores. A down-with-the-kids statement reads: “After nearly 20 years (and perhaps a bit of time travel) we’re even doing the impossible – we’re giving away a one-time only, limited-edition run of Szechuan Sauce in select restaurants.” Again: there is absolutely no time-travel in Rick & Morty.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7
Mass demand and shortages of the sauce lead to such anger that police are called to US outlets of McDonald’s. Fans chant “We want sauce!” and protest with hand-made #GiveUsTheSauce signs. McDonald’s Twitter feed is full of apologies to fans who travelled miles and waited hours, only to be disappointed.
Angry crowd chants "We want sauce" as police force them back. 1000+ people camped out to get #szechuansauce but McDonalds had 70 sauces… pic.twitter.com/wEaqC64Hln
— Ian J Sikes (@ianjsikes) October 7, 2017
We’re so sorry to hear this. We could only make small batches of Szechuan Sauce, but DM us and we’ll try to find a way to make it up to you.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) October 7, 2017
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8
Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland distances himself from the promotion, writing: “We had nothing to do with this McDonald’s stuff. Not happy with how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees, it’s not their fault.”
FYI: We had nothing to do with this McDonald's stuff. Not happy w/how this was handled. Please be cool to the employees it's not their fault
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) October 8, 2017
MONDAY, OCTOBER 9
McDonald’s announces plans to bring back the sauce on wide release, continuing to use what they might call ‘the lingo’: “We’ve worked to open any portal necessary, and it worked. Szechuan Sauce is coming back again this winter. And instead of being one-day-only we’re bringing more – a lot more – so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechuan sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s. You’re some of the best fans in this – or any – dimension.”.
You spoke. We’ve listened. Lots more #SzechuanSauce and locations. Details soon. And that’s the wayyy the news goes! pic.twitter.com/ooIrbZBsOw
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) October 8, 2017
And now we play the waiting game…